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March 11, 2019updated 31 Jan 2022 10:25am

The latest banking chatbot competes with your friendly bank manager

By Priya Kantaria

The banking chatbot has come a long way from just linking to FAQs and referring you to a human colleague when questions get too profound.

Now there is a chatbot, a virtual agent in conversational AI for banks, which its creator IPsoft claims is the first conversational banking solution.

Chetan Dube, chief executive officer at IPsoft said: “With 1Bank we provide the most humanlike digital experience in the marketplace, built from the knowledge we’ve gained serving six of the world’s leading banks with conversational AI.

“We are giving banks the possibility of providing customers with their own personal banker around the clock.”

What a banking chatbot can do

The virtual agent is trained with banking specific language and can communicate by web, mobile or voice, claims its parent company, a leader in enterprise AI and cognitive and autonomic solutions.

The agent, called 1Bank, can open and close accounts and can recommend and even set up recurring payments from different accounts.

It also advises on unpaid bills by letting customers know about incoming bills and insufficient funds in their account.

The capabilities continue with the usual sorts of routine tasks you would have once needed a person to help with: finding transactions, disputing fraudulent charges, getting a new PIN and applying for a credit card.

The chatbot even takes the initiative, leading customers in the next steps with travel plans, creating travel alerts after an airline purchase and recommending currency exchange and withdrawal.

1Bank can also switch topic mid-conversation, mimicking and aligning with human needs.

Towards a fully automated bank

According to IPSoft: “Consumer relationships in the retail banking space have never been particularly strong.

“A recent millennial survey revealed that all four of today’s leading banks are amongst the ten least loved brands by millennial consumers.”

Today’s “hyper-connected consumer,” thinks of crowdfunding, virtual and cryptocurrency and online payment apps over cheques and ATMs.

In the face of this, banks are keeping up by investing in FinTech solutions, such as conversational chatbots, to maintain their brands.

The report from IPsoft says: “The largest banks have announced aggressive cost-cutting measures that promise to shave 20% of operations.”

The expectation is that they will shut customer care centres, reduce numbers of ATMs and close branches.

Enter the chatbot, 1Bank, helping make those savings and contributing to the idea of banks moving with the times and still delivering on what customers need.

IPsoft predicts “the emergence of a fully automated bank,” where clients can speak conversationally, in “natural language” with cognitive agents and can do so at any time.

And the agents, or chatbots, will use real-time intelligence systems and automated back-offices to make informed and compliant decisions on banking process.

And when new policies or regulations develop, the chatbots will keep up.